undiscovered native US trees?

Graydon

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What will be the next somewhat "undiscovered" native tree that will be a good subject for bonsai in the United States?

Of the "discovered" ones we can agree that the west coast junipers are great subjects. Down in the south we found bald (and pond) cypress to be good material. No doubt the old collected ponderosa pines are beautiful. I'm also liking the lodgepole pines. The native oaks in California seem to be great material and I have also seen some nice live oaks, willow oaks and other 'scrub' oaks from my home state.

I have been eyeballing a native hawthorn (Crataegus flava) as well as a scrub oak (Quercus inopina), our native sand pine (Pinus clausa) and perhaps a native that is related to the blueberry we call farkleberry or sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum).

So what's next in your regions?
 

rlist

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Tom Tynan, Jim Doyle & Walter Pall believe the next revolution in collected material will come in the form of firs - sub alpine, white, silver, noble and others. They have great needles, backbud somewhat easily, are easy to care for and in general have a great alpine look - especially once barked up.
 

JasonG

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Good question....

I would say that sub-alpine fir will be gaining some momentum in the future. Same with lodgepole pine, very awesome tree and not too often seen in bonsai. Also, spruce..... I think they will start to pick up steam. Ofcourse with the above trees I am talking about yamadori not nursery stock or field grown material. Oh, I can't forget the Hemlocks, Western and Mt, both make for really good collected native trees for bonsai.

I am sure I can think of some more but that short list is some of the NW natives..... Decidous is a bit tougher.......

Jason
 

Brent

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Celtis occidentalis, Western Hackberry, beats any of the Asian hackberries hands down, incredible ramification, small scale furrowed bark, fast growing. I don't know if there are any yamadori possibilities, but there may be in the Appalacians. Nursery material is perfectly suitable and large trunks are possible in a short period due the fast growth rate.

The problem with the firs (Abies sp) is that almost all have a limited range of suitable growing conditions. Most of the hot areas are going to left out of enjoying them.

Brent
EvergreenGardenworks.com
see our blog at http://BonsaiNurseryman.typepad.com
 

John Hill

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How about the pitch pine (pinus rigida) ?

A Friend in bonsai
John
 

Vance Wood

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Marty Schmalenberg has done a lot of work with Pitch Pine. But it seems of late he has kind of separated himself from the tree. I can only assume it might be due to a fear of being pigeon-hold in this species.
 

BONSAI_OUTLAW

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Celtis occidentalis...I agree Brent. I now have a small collection of these and I have become very fond of them for a variety of reasons.
 

darrellw

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I agree that Pinus contorta is a great species for bonsai, but my Sunset bonsai book from the 70's has an example, so I don't know that we could really call it "undiscovered"!
 

Vance Wood

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I think there is a marked difference between undiscovered and underutilized. As to Lodge Pole Pine, I had a couple of really nice ones when I lived in California before I was inducted into the Army. Since all of those pre-war bonsai were casualties I no longer have any of them. They make wonderful bonsai but I found them rather slow to respond. Another tree I loved from that period was Douglas Fir. I have seen a couple of harvested Dougs over the years posted on line but as yet have not seen any update on any of them. This is one tree I believe could be a world class tree. There is also a small Cy pres that grows on the Pt. Reyes Peninsula that is a wonderful little tree. I had one of these as well and have not seen one since. Manzanita is also a possibility but out side of the really young ones and those cultivated from seed I have not seen any of the really old driftwood Manzanitas I remember from when I lived in California. Coast Live Oak is another beautiful tree that Mike Page utilizes to great success.
 

Tachigi

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MY two cents worth would be:

Conifers / Colo. Blue Spruce

Deciduous / Mountain Laurel or Flowering Almond
 

Behr

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Here in Texas we have several species that show much promise as good bonsai material...I believe the most widely accepted would be the "Texas Ebony' [Pithecellobium ebano], which in recent years has gained popularity in many places outside the area...

We also have the 'Texas Persimmon' [Diospyros texana]...This tree has a lovely light gray bark quite similar in color to the 'zelkova', but the most enduring quality of the tree is the deadwood which becomes a very dark black after about a year exposure to the elements...The contrast created between bark and deadwood is quite striking...

The 'Texas Mountain Cedar' [Juniperus ashe] is a close relative to the 'Eastern Red Cedar' [Juniperus virginiana] with much the same growth habit in nature, but with a softer, thicker, foliage...The species shows much promise, but as with the 'California Juniper' it has seen some difficulty in collecting larger specimens...

The 'Texas Cedar Elm' [Ulmus crassifolia] is another variety that has gained popularity throughout the nation having the smallest natural leaf of all elms native to this country, and they will reduce significantly...

The 'Escarpment Live Oak' [Quercus fusiformis] is an upland [hill country] variety of the 'Southern Live Oak' [virginiana], which also shows much promise for bonsai although I have not witnessed it being widely used...

We also have several varieties that are native to Mexico and southern Texas that have characteristics such as small natural leaf size and good textured bark that I would love to see utilized more...These include the 'Texas Huisache' [Acacia smallii], 'Honey Mesquite' [Prosopis glandulosa], 'Brasil' [Condalia hookeri], and 'Coma Del Sur' [Bumelia celastrina]...These are species that need more research to develop good horticultural practices for bonsai culture, and hopefully in the future this sort of work will be accomplished...

Unfortunately, as is also true with many parts of the nation the main thrust of State organizations has been to teach and develop the 'Japanese' traditional bonsai with traditional species...There does seem to be a few that are working with native U.S. tree species, and I hope this will continue to grow...It is often stated that "American Bonsai" cannot match the Japanese in quality trees...Could this be a result of our efforts to 'copy' rather than develop?...We will never be able to do what the Japanese do, better than they do it...They have too much of a head start on us, and they live the culture rather than study it...

Regards
Behr

:D :D :D
 

Tachigi

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Could this be a result of our efforts to 'copy' rather than develop?...We will never be able to do what the Japanese do, better than they do it...They have too much of a head start on us, and they live the culture rather than study it...
I wholeheartedly agree with this statement Mr. Behr. This is another testament to Americans finding there own style as well as there own subjects. Bonsai IMO should reflect the cultural and geographic location that it was created. So unless Mount Fuji pops up in my backyard I will keep looking for trees that represent what I see on a day to day bases.
 

Jay Wilson

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Great reply Behr. Very informative.

Bonsai IMO should reflect the cultural and geographic location that it was created. So unless Mount Fuji pops up in my backyard I will keep looking for trees that represent what I see on a day to day bases.
I am with you on this Tom. I might say could instead of should but I try to make trees that look like trees I see around me.

To address the original question, I have had promising results with the florida elm[Ulmus americanna var floridanna] and a couple of my native oaks (willow oak[Quercus phellos], water oak[Quercus nigra] and laurel oak[Quercus laurifolia])

Jay
 

Bonsai Nut

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If I were to chose my favorite U.S. tree for bonsai it would be Acer saccharum, the sugar maple. Where I grew up in the Midwest we had fields full of them, and every fall the colors were amazing - they equaled or surpassed any that I have seen with Japanese Maples at 10x the scale. The sugar maple is not exactly undiscovered for bonsai; in fact it is one of the few American trees that show up in the book "Bonsai with American Trees". However, I have never seen it at a show. I'll bet with a little time and effort, people could selectively cultivate for smaller leaves...
 

tom tynan

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I would start with the firs as Rich mentioned; Sub-Alpine, Silver and Douglas Fir

As far as pines; Pinus Contorta - Shore Pine, as well as a cousin of the Ponderosa; Jeffrey Pine.

Maples: Vine Maple [I have to twist Jason Gamby's arm to dig up one of these stumps from the lava beds in Oregon].

Cherry/Plum: Prunus Americana [wild american plum]

Spruces: Colorado [already mentioned], Englemann and maybe others.

Off topic - the undiscovered country for collecting are the suburbs of the United States. I have been looking at homes recently and cannot believe the number of azaelas, yews, pines of all types - that people have planted and just let grow wild. I think we will see more and more Mugo Pines purchased via big box stores and planted, left alone for 20 or 30 years and then collected. Case in point - a monster Mugo at the local 7-Eleven driven and beaten over by everyone....massive twisted 3" to 4" trunk...

Tom
 

Bonsai Nut

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Case in point - a monster Mugo at the local 7-Eleven driven and beaten over by everyone....massive twisted 3" to 4" trunk...
I'll bet if you went to the store owner and offered to replace his mangled old tree with a new one at no charge (labor included) he would take you up on it! :)
 

JasonG

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Tom,

I would bet that you wouldn't even need to replace the mugo. It is all in the presentation.... point out how people keep driving over it, it is in the way and is an eye sore. Offer to remove the tree, fill in the hole and put bark dust in that area. 99% sure they will be more than happy to get rid of it.
Make sure you are ready to go when they tell you yes.... if you wait there is a chance they will change thier minds.
You are correct that urban collecting has a very promising future.... it just takes some time and nerve to go knock on a door....

Now buddy, go dig that mugo!!!!!!!!!!!

Jason
 

rlist

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I would start with the firs as Rich mentioned; Sub-Alpine, Silver and Douglas Fir
Tom, shhhhh... Douglas Fir is not actually a "true fir"... You and Vance are correct though, and it is a matter of time before they become more popular. Randy at Oregon Bonsai has two great ones in his personal collection, and Jason has a great potensai marked at one of our collecting spots.

And, as Jason said, go dig that tree!
 

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